Placid feeling in return ‘home’

first_imgHaving had a couple of days to recover from Wisconsin’s four-overtime victory over Harvard Saturday night, Badger coach Mark Johnson has had time to reflect on one of the most exciting games of his hockey career.”It ranks up there,” Johnson said of the quarterfinal win. “It’s much more nerve-wracking and much more difficult being a coach than it is being a player, as I found out the last couple years when you get this far, and you get this deep, and you’re so close. I told my assistant coaches, I wish I could play this game. I don’t prefer playing than coaching, but it ranks up there.”Johnson, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, knows a thing or two about exciting games. With the latest win, he will get a chance to return to Lake Placid, site of the 1980 Olympics, when the Badgers head to the Frozen Four this weekend. Johnson did, however, downplay the significance of the site in his Monday press conference.”Myself personally, it’s not about me. It’s about the team right now. It’s about the players. They’ve worked hard. All the kids that are born in the U.S.A. have been to Lake Placid with the select camps that they’ve participated in as they’ve gone through the process of becoming a player.”Frozen Four up nextThough beating Harvard in the first round seemed to be a pretty trying task for Wisconsin, this weekend will present even more challenging opponents as the Badgers return to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season.”When you get down to four teams, it becomes more difficult,” Johnson said. “You look at matchups. We had some upsets over the weekend. Our task doesn’t get easier, but we’re still playing, and that’s the best part of it. You’ll regroup. You’ll practice for a couple days, put a game plan together and go after it.”Like their heavily attended quarterfinal game, Johnson anticipates the Frozen Four games to be exciting and well-played also.”When you get down to these matchups right now, they’re going to be good games. Whether it’s going to be our game or BC against Duluth, they’re going to be good games. They’re going to be playoff-type atmospheres, and they’re going to be close contests. I’m sure it’ll be another one-goal affair similar to what we saw last year.”St. Lawrence Awaits the Badgers in the SemisUp first for the Badgers in Lake Placid will be St. Lawrence, led by Sabrine Harbec, the nation’s second-leading scorer. Last season, Wisconsin played a tough game against the Saints in the semifinals but emerged with a 1-0 victory. This year, Johnson is expecting another hard-fought game.”It’ll be another tough battle. Obviously, the veteran players that they have went through it last season and are certainly going to want to do more to make sure they win the game instead of lose it. They’ve got a solid team. They’ve got six excellent defensemen. They’ve got some kids up front that can score some goals, so our hands are going to be full. We have to play like we did against Harvard. If we play that well, I like our chances.”Against the Crimson, UW at least had a home-ice advantage going for them. Playing in upstate New York though, a significant distance away and against the host team, will just add to the difficulty of earning a win against the Saints.”They’re the host team,” Johnson said. “They’re hosting the tournament, and they’re certainly going to have some people in the building, because they won’t have to travel too far. It’ll be a road game for us, but we’ve been pretty solid.”Despite playing on the road, Johnson is confident his team will be ready to play and give it all they have.”Throw everything you have at them,” Johnson said. “Leave everything at the rink, leave everything on the ice, and then you can walk away from the game and be proud of your effort.”last_img read more